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Archive for August, 2017

A world first Workplace Culture Dashboard to prevent violence against women and strengthen gender equality

Sydney, 29 August – White Ribbon Australia announced today the launch of a world first Workplace Culture Dashboard. The Dashboard provides a view of attitudinal and behavioural changes in organisations as a result of the Workplace Accreditation Program delivered by White Ribbon.

The White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program has collected 150,000 qualitative and quantitative responses from workplace program participants across Australia. The analysis of this data enables White Ribbon and organisations to further benefit from more targeted interventions in response to their individual culture.

White Ribbon commissioned KPMG to build the Dashboard based on their analysis of the survey data from 160 organisations that have participated in the White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program since 2012. The Dashboard represents the diversity of the data sets, which spans 22 industries and over 600,000 staff.

Initial analysis of the responses demonstrates the positive impact of this evidence-based prevention program in improving attitudes and behaviours towards violence against women and gender equality.

White Ribbon’s CEO, Libby Davies says, “Violence against women is a workplace issue affecting the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, organisational culture and reputation, and the bottom line. One in five women experience harassment in the workplace[1], approximately two-thirds of women who experience violence are in paid work[2], and 94 per cent of employees agree employers should take a leadership role in educating their workplace about respectful relationships between men and women[3].

“We work directly with organisations to develop the tools that drive positive workplace culture, which include policy, procedures, training and communication, to enable the workplace community to enhance skills and knowledge to address abuse and violence against women, and to strengthen gender equality.”

The Dashboard also has the capability to build workplace profiles based on the changes in: employee understandings of abuse and violence against women; attitudes and behaviours; organisational culture; the role of being an active bystander; and response to disclosures of violence.

“Workplace Accreditation gives employers across all sectors the means to create and sustain a working environment based on equality and mutual respect. The benefits of standing up and speaking out about men’s violence against women extend beyond the immediate office environment.

“The Workplace Accreditation Program’s Dashboard further strengthens the Program’s workplace insights, and provides an opportunity for business and governments alike to further their understanding of the importance of comprehensive workplace programs that target specific cultures and behaviours.  This Dashboard will be a critical tool in the ongoing independent evaluation of the Program,” concluded Ms Davies.

The surveys are a key part of the obligations of the workplace undergoing accreditation. Analysis of the White Ribbon Workplace survey data evidenced an improvement in understanding of violence against women since completing the Accreditation. What constitutes abuse and how it manifests was also better understood following the Accreditation process. It also shows an increased confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour and support disclosures of violence.

The White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program supports all employees to challenge inappropriate behaviour, hold perpetrators to account, enables support for victims of abuse and supports gender equality.

One of the 150,000 survey respondents said, “I think that as people are educated on the various forms of violence against women it changes their thinking and behaviour. I think some men would not have thought their actions fit into the category of violence until it was explained to them. If behaviour is accepted nothing will change, it takes a campaign like this to open people’s eyes to the damage their words or actions can have on another person.”

Accreditation takes 18 months to complete and lasts for three years, during which time the workplace must evidence an ongoing, sustainable commitment to the prevention of violence against women.

-Ends-

[1] Australian Human Rights Commission (2008) Sexual Harassment Guide. Retrieved from: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/guides/sexual-harassment

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Personal Safety, Australia, (2005) (Reissue), Cat. No. 4906.0, 35. Retrieved from http://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/family-and-domestic-violence/publications/fact-sheet-domestic-and-family-violence-workplace#fn10

[3] Pennay, D & Powell, A. (2012). The role of bystander knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in preventing violence against women: A full technical report. The Social Research Centre. Melbourne.

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Vic MP Fiona Richardson

White Ribbon Australia is deeply saddened by the passing of Victorian Minister for Family Violence Prevention, Fiona Richardson.

We recognise Fiona as a tireless advocate of great commitment and courage for gender equality and prevention of domestic violence.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with her family, friends and colleagues.

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Creating a safer future on university campuses

(As published in The Australian on August 2, 2017)

White Ribbon welcomes yesterday’s release of the Change the Course report by the Australian Human Rights Commission into university students’ experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault.

This robust national survey is very timely given the reluctance of the tertiary sector to formally acknowledge and respond to the issue that has for decades existed across our university campuses. This study has brought to the forefront some alarming figures — namely, that one in five students experienced sexual harassment in a university setting in 2016. Additionally, women were found to have been three times more likely than men to have experienced sexual assault.

This data confirms what we’ve known for some time. Women are more likely to experience sexual harassment and sexual assault than men, and the drivers of this are the same that lead to domestic violence. As a community we have broken the silence about this insidious issue that permeates our domestic life in Australia.

Focusing on its occurrence in other settings is critical to the wellbeing of our whole community and to continuing to preventing it from happening in the first place and support those affected. To prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault we need to address the culture, attitudes and behaviours of young people so that we do not normalise or tolerate abusive, disrespectful behaviours that perpetuate gender power imbalances and gender inequality.

Universities must be safe places, where students and staff participate in an educative environment that is equitable and supportive. The current status quo, as outlined in the report, is unacceptable.

The issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in university environments reflect what is happening in our broader community. They impact wider society, encompassing schools, workplaces and homes. While some universities have taken positive steps taken to address sexual harassment and sexual assault, these efforts need to be more focused and build on what is evidenced as working to drive and deliver change. They must take a holistic, committed and universal approach.

Recent independent evaluation of White Ribbon’s workplace accreditation program data highlights the positive impact that prevention initiatives have on behaviours. The data demonstrates the effectiveness of working with workplaces and learning environments to broaden understandings of gender based violence and abuse, create respectful relationships and build people’s confidence to be active bystanders and take action when they witness violence or become aware of it.

Universities are now in a position where they need to address gender inequality, abuse and disrespect. Change can be made through strategic programs, that create positive learning environments supported by policy and procedures which highlight approaches to prevention, support victims of harassment and assault, allow bystanders to report incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.

We stand beside the individuals and organisations who have advocated tirelessly to bring this issue into the spotlight. We acknowledge and commend the 39 Australian universities for taking this critical step to advance understanding of the exact nature and extent of this issue, and encourage all tertiary institutions to use this as a catalyst for change.

Working together we can create a safer future, free of all forms of harassment and assault.

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